Low channel draught threatens NPA’s vessels diversion directive to eastern ports- Operator

Low channel draught threatens NPA’s vessels diversion directive to eastern ports- Operator

 

Abiola Seun

 

An operator at the Lagos port complex yesterday said the eastern ports lack the capacity to handle vessels that will be diverted from Lagos port because of its shallow channel draught.

Speaking yesterday, a source, who craved anonymity, said he feared other challenges such as lack of enough berth, yard space, cargo handling equipment will make it difficult for the directive to be successful.

It was learned that the Lagos port -Apapa and Tin-Can Island have a channel draught of 13 meters, the eastern ports have a much lower channel draught with the Port Harcourt port having seven meters channel draught, the Calabar ports having 6.4 meters.

With a draught of 6.4 meters, the channel can only attract flat bottom vessels that don’t ply Nigerian ports and much smaller vessels with less than 100TEUs.

However, the source who doesn’t want his name in print because he was not authorized to speak, said if Apapa and Tin-Can Island ports that have more cargo handling equipment than the whole of Eastern ports have congestion challenge, he wondered the eastern ports with less equipment will they handle the diverted vessels.

The source declared, “we know it is an emergency but it is a stop-gap but we should ask whether where there is capacity where we are diverting the cargoes to? What is their yard space, cargo handling equipment and draft that will allow then  all at the port.”

“If Tin-Can Island and Apapa ports can’t handle then how will eastern port handle the congestion?”

“Most of the vessels that call at eastern ports call at Apapa and Tin-Can Island first to discharge to become lighter before they go to Onne.”

Our source also revealed that there is a need to improve infrastructure at the Lagos port, saying the congestion was caused because the road cannot accommodate the volume of cleared cargoes from the seaport.

“We need to expand the infrastructure because the road can’t accommodate the volume of discharged cargoes. Because if we discharge and no road to evacuate it through, there will be congestion,” she said.

Recall that the NPA had announced on Friday that as from 27th of January 2020, any vessel that has waited to berth at any terminal within the Lagos Pilotage District for four days without space will be diverted to other terminals with capacity to berth vessels within the district or to the Eastern ports.

In a statement signed by the General Manager Corporate and Strategic Communications Department of NPA, Eng Adams Jatto, the decision was taken in response to the recent increase in the waiting time of vessels calling at the Lagos Port Complex, Apapa

Jatto said the directive was given after NPA has met with shipping companies and terminal operators and that the decision is aimed at immediately resolving the congestion in the Lagos Pilotage District.

He said “The Authority will liaise with other relevant government agencies on behalf of stakeholders to expedite the clearance of vessels and cargoes, where necessary”

“These actions have been taken to promote the Ease of Doing Business Policy of the Federal Government and curtail the negative economic impact that the long turnaround time of vessels has on stakeholders. We solicit the cooperation of all stakeholders.”

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